Bulu Gorilla Seated Figure Cameroon
Bulu Gorilla-like Figure
This is an impressive piece! The gorilla-like figurehas a large open mouth .
The simian sculptures of the equatorial forests of West Africa have intrigued scholars and attracted collectors for years. Though they come in many forms, there is little factual information on their purpose. The most famous of these, the Cameroon gorilla effigies of the Bulu, are among the most prized objects in African art. The cultures of the Cameroon Grasslands also produce these dramatic pieces. If one looks at the historical interaction between humans and the rare lowland gorillas of the Congo and Equatorial Basins, the purpose of the carvings becomes rather clear. The animals have long been feared throughout their range, though there is scant evidence of attacks on humans. Also their meat is prized and their body parts, alas, have been used by diviners and herbalists for a variety of purposes. The effigies appear to be purely protective in nature, since the animal has always been considered a threat. It is possible that the use of the gorilla figure might be specific, or perhaps have general protective uses against all forest spirits. This would be one explanation at least. Today, fortunately, education and eco-tourism are beginning to reverse the trend of treating the lowland gorilla as a menace. Though it may continue to be exploited, at least it will be given the chance to survive. Due to impenetrable density of the forest, there are few estimates of the present population of lowland gorilla.